A law lecturer has come out against the arrest of anti-lockdown protesters in Auckland yesterday, calling it the death of democracy

An AUT law lecturer has come under fire for posting a video in which she calls the arrests of Billy Te Kahika Jr and Vinny Eastwood a sign of the “death of democracy”.

Amy Benjamin, a lecturer of international law, went public with her take on the outcome of Thursday’s protest last night on YouTube.

She called the decision to go into a snap lockdown an “insane policy that probably amounts to a crime against humanity”.

In the video, she voiced outrage that Te Kahika Jr was arrested for peacefully protesting – which runs counter to police’s statement the arrest was made for the breach of the health order.

She also made the unproven* claim that Covid-19 can be treated with ivermectin.

Lecturer Amy Benjamin (right), appearing maskless at yesterday’s anti-lockdown protest in Auckland. Photo: Matthew Scott

Benjamin made a maskless appearance at the protest in downtown Auckland yesterday, which led to four arrests.

Her distaste for masking up was flagged by students in one of her classes this week.

A source from AUT reported that she asked a student to remove his face mask in a lecture earlier this week, despite the university’s policy allowing students to wear masks and socially distance in class.

In response, Benjamin said she didn’t ask a student to remove a face mask. “I told him he should feel free to do so, not that he should do so or must do so.  And he seemed to react with relief when I said this and promptly took off his mask, with a smile.”  It’s not the first time Benjamin has taken flak for courting controversy.

In 2017, an article of hers was published by the African Journal of International and Comparative Law questioning whether 9/11 was a “false flag attack”, saying the evidence strongly suggests the attacks “were either perpetrated by elements of the US Government or allowed by them to happen”.

Although Benjamin was present at the protest, her inability to pronounce Te Kahika Jr’s name suggests she is not a dedicated follower of his.

Nevertheless, many of the claims she made in her video echoed his, such as calling Covid-19 an easily treatable disease that poses little risk to the healthy population.

Meanwhile, back in Benjamin’s native United States, Covid-related deaths have skyrocketed over the last month, now averaging 769 per day.

This is according to the Reuters tally – mainstream media Benjamin said has “parroted [the Covid narrative] incessantly”.

“Now this, ladies and gentlemen,” Benjamin said about Te Kahika’s arrest, “should make all of you sit up and take notice … Certainly you must see the problem with criminalising and forbidding peaceful protest and demonstration against such a policy.”

It should be noted that the arrest of Te Kahika Jr was for breaching the health order and gathering in public under Level 4 restrictions, rather than for the act of protesting itself.

She said public gathering is critical for protest.

“The Government could have created an exemption from the health-order edict for core political-speech rights, but chose not to,” she said. “So here we are.”

The video was Benjamin’s ‘maiden broadcast’ on her YouTube channel, which is called American Spirit.

A former student of Benjamin’s said she was an upbeat and slightly eccentric tutor in her first year Public Law paper.

“She was deeply enthusiastic about us using correct grammar in our assignments,” she said. “And presenting our opinions loudly and proudly.”

*An earlier version of this story described the ivermectin claim as “demonstrably false” but Benjamin and an academic supporter have pointed to a published study on ivermectin’s benefits. Newsroom regrets that overstatement and has amended the wording to “unproven” to reflect the WHO view that: “The current evidence on the use of ivermectin to treat Covid-19 patients is inconclusive. Until more data is available, WHO recommends that the drug only be used within clinical trials.” The US FDA also says it “has not reviewed data to support use of ivermectin in Covid-19 patients to treat or to prevent Covid-19; however, some initial research is underway.” 

Matthew Scott covers immigration, urban development and Auckland issues.

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